2016 served as a tremendous year for vehicle demonstrations of various alternative fuel/fuel efficient technologies through the Midwest Drives Initiative. Collectively, nearly 12,000 miles have been driven across 2,000+ recorded trips with over 35 fleets. By using FleetCarma data loggers and software, the Midwest Drives program has gained valuable insight to how alternative fuel vehicles perform in the real world.
First, let’s take a look at a quick rundown of how all vehicles performed:
We can break this down further, by splicing out EVs from other alternative fuels:
As you can see, majority of travel during these demonstrations has been at low speeds during around-town drive cycles. This can be especially advantageous for EVs, which have been shown to be efficient in start-stop drive cycles. These statistics also show that driving performance remains relatively constant when compared to traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles, with many drive cycles staying close to operational home-base and not fully depleting fuel reserves. While MPGe [S1] for EVs was greater than MPG for combustible fuels, this is to be expected – MPG for EVs is typically higher thanks in part to the efficiency of electric motors.
The average MPGe recorded in our (Clean Fuels Ohio) demos was significantly higher than the official rating for the Leaf by USEPA. This is likely due to USEPA tests requiring a certain percentage of highway driving, which isn’t realistic based on how most Leafs will be used.
Digging further into the data, we can also gather some insight to “range anxiety”. A common question with all who are learning about alternative fuels is “where do you fill-up?” and “what happens when I run out of fuel?” While those are valid questions, it is important to also bear in mind if you will be driving outside of your expected drive cycle/range and need an emergency fill-ups. For the majority of vehicle trips in Midwest Drives, vehicles rarely see trips taking them beyond their capable range in day-to-day driving.
For EVs, “Range Anxiety” can also be reflected as not having enough battery power left for your next trip. Demonstrations have shown however that majority of EV trips end with over 50% of battery life remaining; enough electricity for an additional 54 mile trip.
Looking at charging of EVs, charging is split between OEM-provided Level 1 chargers (120V) and public Level 2 charging (240V). While overnight charging makes a great fit for fleet EV operation, majority of charging has been conducted as a top off (8.73 kWh), after which fleets will move EVs to other parked locations. Some vehicle charging has occurred on Level 3 DC Fast Charging; this charging infrastructure however is limited to certain metro areas.
Fuel economy is always a top concern for fleets in terms of managing fuel costs and vehicle wear-and-tear. Gratefully for Midwest Drives, we can monitor several factors that can play into vehicle MPG. For instance, extreme (high and low) ambient temperatures and idle time can have negative affects on MPG, as shown below:
The greatest factor in MPG however relates directly to how the vehicle is driven. Two critical factors we can monitor in this regard is aggressive acceleration and braking. Combined together, they are shown to have a large affect on vehicle MPG and Eco Score.
Overall, demonstration vehicles have found a great fit in respective fleets that have test driven thus far, be it gaseous fuels, fuel efficiency technology, or electric vehicles. We look forward to sharing more data throughout the year as we continue to gather vehicle performance trends. You can learn more about the Midwest Drives Initiative, and how to participate, at MidwestDrives.org.